Michigan Association of School Administrators

Service | Leadership | Collaboration | Excellence

Member Blogs

Blog Authors

David Britton, Godfrey-Lee
Scot Graden, Saline
Michele Lemire, Escanaba
Vickie Markavitch, Oakland
Steve Matthews, Novi
Mike Paskewicz, Northview
Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift, Ann Arbor

MASA members: If you have a blog that you would like us to link please contact pmarrah@gomasa.org

Learning at the convergence of 3 different centuries

Written by David Britton on Aug 26, 2016

Our K-12 schools will span three difference centuries this year as we provide a final year of 21st century education for the last graduating class born in the 20th century, and we welcome the kindergarten class where nearly a majority will likely live into the 22nd century.

The real question is, what, how, when and where will they learn from a staff in which all of us were born and mainly raised in the second half of the 1900s?

Michigan's inequitable, inadequate public school funding systems

Written by David Britton on Aug 20, 2016

Here are links to recent and supporting references regarding the recently-released Michigan Education Finance Study (a.k.a., "adequacy study").

Study: Michigan school funding getting ‘more unequal’


Report: At-risk students need more Michigan funding
"Adequacy" study finds Michigan education funding inadequate, inequitablehttp://michiganradio.org/post/adequacy-study-finds-michigan-education-funding-inadequate-inequitable#stream/0
$8,667 per student? 5 findings from Michigan education funding studyhttp://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/8667_per_student_5_findings_fr.html
Michigan Education Finance Studyhttps://www.munetrix.com/blog/michigan-education-finance-study/


Supt. Whiston Calls for Action on State Education Funding Studyhttp://www.uppermichiganssource.com/content/news/Supt-Whiston-Calls-for-Action-on-State-Education-Funding-Study--389619152.html

Long-Awaited Education Funding Study Releasedhttp://www.masb.org/long-awaited-education-funding-study-released.aspx
Unintended Consequence of Centralized Public School Funding in Michigan Educationhttps://www.jstor.org/stable/20062058?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Rep. Zemke: Education Study Reveals Significant Funding Gaps

America’s Most Financially Disadvantaged School Systems

Study a step to getting Michigan school funding right

Upjohn Institute says education funding in Michigan is broken

On your worst day, you can be someone’s best hope

Written by Steve Matthews on Aug 16, 2016
In just under two weeks, on August 29 to be precise, teachers in my school district will officially begin the new school year. Most have been busy for weeks thinking and planning and preparing for the upcoming year. Many have already been to their classrooms, busily fussing to prepare their rooms for the new school year.

My teachers will be ready for the "normal" changes that come with the start of any new school year - new curriculum, new resources, new technology, new ideas. If I know the teachers in my district, they will be ready for school - prepared, focused, goal-directed. Just this week many have begun to participate in district provided professional development to get ready for the new school year. This is on top of what they have already done this summer.
 And that brings me comfort. I know that the students in my district will be well served.

But, truthfully, I also want my teachers to come prepared to care for the students who come into their classrooms. Students need to know that there is an adult who is not their Mom or Dad or favorite Aunt or Grandmother who cares deeply for them, who wants them to succeed.

Students need classrooms that provide both challenge and care. 

In the past decade schools and society have focused on the challenge of school. We, hilariously and disquietingly, pretend that we can identify if a kindergarten student is making progress on being college and career ready. We have tested and assessed and benchmarked ourselves and our students - sometimes to the point of frustration, sometimes to the point of boredom, often to the point of anxiety. We have railed against wasted time in school. Some schools have reduced or eliminated recess and gym and music and art in an effort to ensure that our students will be "globally competitive."

The world today is different than the world I grew up in. No longer are students competing just with the person down the street. Now they compete with students from around the world. No longer can high school graduates easily transition into well-paying careers. No longer will employees work their lifetime for one employer who will protect and provide for them.

So we need schools that challenge our students, that make them think, that help them use knowledge in meaningfully and purposeful ways, that encourage them to hypothesize and create, that help them find ways to network and connect.

But we have, at times, forgotten that schools must also care for our students.

Our students need adults who take time to listen, who look students in their eyes to make sure that they are alright, who create opportunities for students to be heard.

Our students need adults who help students develop skills in empathy and compassion, who light fires in students to be kind, who help students learn to navigate conflict.

Classrooms need to be places where students feel safe, where they can ask questions, where they can fail and find someone encouraging them to get back up again.

Classrooms need rigor and kindness.

Teachers and administrators, custodians and bus drivers, food service workers and secretaries, preschool teachers and parapros can have a tremendously positive impact on students if we remember that part of our responsibility is to be kind, to create safe spaces, to care for the students that we teach, feed, and care for. 

Too often we judge a school by a test score. It is important to remember that schools are more than a test score.

Students need to know that staff members care. Because, at times we forget, even on a staff member's worst day, they at times are a student's best hope.

Is Your Middle-Schooler READY for a SMARTPHONE?

Written by Vickie Markavitch on Aug 11, 2016

The answer may be surprising because a child’s readiness for a smartphone is usually based on behavior only peripherally connected to the internet. Does he do his assigned chores? Does she get up for school on time? Do they only use the iPad for homework and educational games? A student’s maturity level does count for some of the smartphone readiness factor, but this is what counts MORE:

Parent preparation.

Giving middle school students a smartphone because they walk home, or have extracurricular activities, or need a portable internet connection for schoolwork may be a reasonable decision for some families.

However, there are smartphone life skills that should be introduced to kids by their parents BEFORE a phone is purchased, and also as part of an ONGOING reinforcement process.

A smartphone is a wondrous tool, but it doesn’t come with directions. It is up to mom or dad to ensure that a child is really ready for this big step by integrating ‘Responsible Culture’ teaching tools into family life.

What you can do:

  • Use regular Family Meetings and Online Safety Contracts to co-develop a flexible cyber-use plan with your middle-schoolers. DISCUSSION is the key to working with tweens, teens and social media. They like to be treated as adults…and having a voice is a different feeling than being told what to do.
  • Educate your family with the free, online resources provided by Common Sense Media. Your children need to understand how texting can lead to sexting; how to deal with cyber-bullies; and, where they can go for help with an embarrassing or endangering social media situation.


Center your ‘Responsible Culture’ teaching tools on responsible choices and online safety: talk with your children about social media behavior and reasonable guidelines – even practice online scenarios.

Your expectations, and the consequences for a tween or teen’s social media misstep or phone privilege abuse should be discussed BEFORE incidents occur. Middle-schoolers WILL make online mistakes, but educating is ‘greater than reacting’, and you are teaching your children a vital social skill-set for the 21st century.

  • Part of your Online Safety Contract should state that you must have current passwords to phones and apps at all times. This is a safety item, and is non-negotiable.
  • You may wish to start your children on a cell-phone with texting, but without internet access. Ensure that they can make responsible choices prior to placing the power of the internet at their fingertips.


Perhaps the most imperative piece of educating your son or daughter about smartphone best practices is educating YOURSELF.

  • I say this a lot: You can’t monitor social media if you are not ON social media. Sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and follow your kids. 
  • Do you demonstrate internet leadership; are you walking your own i-Talk? Make dinner a device-free meal. Put conversation with family-members ahead of checking messages. Your children are watching your habits, and they need to know what healthy smartphone behavior looks like. Show BALANCE!

Your middle-schooler’s job is to practice making good online choices.

Your job is to monitor your middle-schooler’s online choices, and to teach appropriate social boundaries for the internet.

And, if YOU are ready to prepare, discuss and monitor; if you are open to learning, leading and participating; if you are willing to model healthy online habits…then your middle-schooler is very likely ready for a smartphone.


Device-free Dinner Challenge

List of Online Safety Contracts (free templates for K-12)

FREE K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum for Parents & Educators

Family Tip Sheets to Guide Discussion on Tough Topics 

K-12 Family Activity Worksheets (great for Family Meeting discussion)

Parent Concerns 

Tweens, Teens and Social Media: RESOURCES


By Blog Editor Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools


 Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000

Summer Reading…

Written by Scot Graden on Jul 16, 2016

Summer is well underway and, while my intentions are sincere, I have yet to get very far with my list of books!  

This summer I am reading Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal is a retired 4-star General, who devoted thirty-four years in government service with the US Army. As commander of all US forces in Afghanistan, he managed teams under the most severe of conditions. The book uses examples from recent military missions to highlight the need for organizations to be agile and adaptable.  Much of what McChrystal learned from his military experience is portrayed in the book as solid leadership for any organization.  It points out how old rules no longer apply. Old principles of leadership do not keep pace with the rapid flow of information and the lifestyle of a digital generation.

I am also looking to finish  Brown Dog by Jim Harrison.  Harrison passed away last year and it reminded me that the book follows a character named Brown Dog who rescues a preserved body of an Indian from Lake Superior’s cold waters. He lives a simple life, but overindulges in food and drink while just scraping by in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s summer. It’s a novel that is intense and well written, and brings home my love of the UP and the simple things in life.   

The two books that I have chosen to read this summer are in stark contrast to one another, but each has something of great interest to me, first as an organizational leader, and second, as a man that loves the out-of doors and being close to nature. That is the beauty of reading. There is no end to the journeys that we can take through the written word and the mind’s imagination. Summer is a wonderful time for students (and adults!) to read.  The Saline District Library is an incredible community asset – stop by and check out their collection! A young adult fiction section shelves titles that will interest even the most reluctant reader. The District Library has a vast collection of eBooks and downlo
adable titles for those that prefer to listen to good literature. A library card is one of the best investments that you can make in your child’s future.


Everyday is a day to learn something new. Reading gives everyone that opportunity.